10-8 party line vote sets up Senate vote on Alito

Via the Washington Post:

Democrats all but conceded the Supreme Court confirmation of Samuel A. Alito Jr. yesterday but signaled they will use the Senate debate that begins today to focus on President Bush’s domestic spying program and their predictions that Alito will be too pliant in supporting it.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10 to 8 along party lines to recommend Alito’s confirmation, depriving him of the bipartisan support enjoyed by most current justices and setting the stage for a sharply partisan Senate debate this week. The vote, which was anticipated, occurred after stinging criticisms by Democrats, including the three who supported Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. last fall.

Democratic leaders indicated they will attack Alito’s record as an appellate judge in the floor debate expected to extend to Friday or later. But they strongly hinted there will be no filibuster, a parliamentary tactic that conceivably could enable Democrats to block the confirmation in a 100-member chamber in which Republicans hold 55 seats.

Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told reporters that each senator’s decision on Alito is “a vote of conscience,” a term used when the leadership does not press for party solidarity. Reid would not rule a filibuster in or out, but top Democratic staff aides said they saw little chance of one.

Keep your eye on CSPAN next week as no doubt they will be carrying the Senate debates on Alito as they happen. I have a feeling that Democratic Sens. Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid’s speeches will be real scorchers (in order to throw out some red meat to their core supporters), but my prediction is that in the end Alito will be confirmed in a very close vote.

More on this can be read at All Things Beautiful, Suitably Flip, PunditGuy, Stop the ACLU, Polipundit, Professor Bainbridge

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